There is a HUGE controversy buzzing around the business world, and rightfully so — potential employers have been asking interviewees for their personal Facebook login information and passwords.
As of right now, there aren’t any laws protecting applicants against this type of questioning, so it’s hard for prospective employees to refuse with the job market the way it is. Employers are saying they need extra information to verify if the candidate is qualified for the position; however, they could easily discriminate with the personal information from the social site. When logged in as yourself, these accounts clearly display information like religion, gender, and race, which are all protected by federal employment laws.
So, what’s being done about this touchy subject?
Facebook has already commented on the controversy, saying: “We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” while also adding that “turning down applicants using Facebook can be a very slippery slope” (referring to the applicant’s private and protected information). While Facebook has not yet taken any legal action, they are prepared to engage with policy makers to protect the privacy of their users.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer are also fighting for the rights of employment applicants, saying that no one should have to give up their private life just to get a job. They are encouraging the Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to fully investigate the matters at hand. The Senators argue that the inappropriate application questioning is violating the Stored Communications Act (protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures online) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (disallows intentional access to private computer information without authorization). Also, Senator Leland Yee plans to sponsor a bill that would stop employers from asking for personal social media password information.
But what if it’s not an employer asking for the information, but your school? Recently, colleges have been making student athletes “friend” a school official or coach on Facebook to monitor comments and photos that are meant to be just between friends. Will the bills protect against that? Student privacy is just as important as employee privacy, and this should also be brought to the attention of lawmakers.
Since Facebook has been popular, I’ve been told to watch what pictures I post and comments I make, because schools and employers watch social media sites for suspicious activity. I never thought, however, I would have to worry about someone asking me for my login information so they can look through my private messages, photos, and friends list. That’s like asking someone for their house keys or access to a private diary. You wouldn’t hand something like that over to a stranger, so why would giving them access to a social media account be any different?
Unfortunately, some people don’t have the option to refuse their information because they are in a tight situation and need the job. Employers are more likely to hire the person who complies with their requests before the applicants who don’t. That’s why bills need to be passed, to protect our rights to privacy. Right?